The world of sporting goods is a complicated world. There are only a limited number of items and products to be utilized for sports; therefore, producers need to bring a unique and fresh approach to their line of products. If a product is available by a dozen other brands, and ready at a dozen stores, why should the consumer select a given brand? In order for a brand name to be impressionable and strong, a strong sense of values and beliefs must value the name of the brand.
Brand personality and identity is the spark behind sales. How a consumer feels about a brand or product line will be a direct factor in the decision of a purchase. Some brands rank high on different scales for levels of quality, popularity and appearance. A brand has much more meaning than a simple label or title. A brand goes beyond the product image and values; it has emotional appeals capable of captivating an audience to make them feel special for owning such a great product; by joining a brand clique.
Three of the biggest names in sporting goods are: Adidas, Nike and Puma. Each has their own personality, identity and spin on everyday products. Each brand has its own personal appeal to different target audiences. Some successful campaigns are even able to target a widespread universal audience.
Adidas is an internationally known product. Everyone either owns a product themselves, or knows someone who does, Adidas is that common. The company was founded in 1925 in Germany, and has made a permanent home in the world of retail ever since. The three-stripe logo is meant to be a defining trait of the brand. The strength of the brand lies within its initial product innovation. In a few short years the company had more than seven hundred patents on shoe designs. At this time Adidas was worshipped for having such different styles and such a wide collection.
There is a rich history that ties Adidas to the global sporting events. Adidas has been the main sponsor for several years of Olympic games. Adidas has been the spokes brand for any sporting event that requested their presence; therefore they have a rich resume. The brand is related to competing for the win. The initial slogan, All Day I Dream About Sports, limited the target audience. If you weren’t a sports enthusiast it seemed as though Adidas was not the brand for you. It served as intimidating, the kind of atmosphere a shopper is not content to search within.
In 2004 the slogan was changed to, “impossible is nothing”. This connects more negative emotions towards sports. It is meant to suggest the idea that dreams are achievable, but how it is conveyed suggests that ones best is not sufficient, that wining is everything. Adidas is a strong representative of distinct areas of European culture, including `being conservative, individual, aggressive and always competent. This is not welcoming to some audiences, and does not convey positive emotions.
The brand is not a high demand product as it used to be. One of the sole reasons it is still receiving attention is because of the hip-hop community. Artists will wear Adidas items as endorsed by the company to receive attention. Adidas does not reissue any new items into their line of products; instead items are recycled and referred to as ‘retro’ or ‘old school’ to draw attention to a recycled product.
The three stripes are no longer a definite trait of Adidas. Newer brands such as Energie and Miss Sixty each on three stripes on each item of clothing. Therefore, the only thing that makes an Adidas product clear is the name stated on the product.
Brands reach peaks and plateaus of popularity through their lifespan. Puma is a prime example. Puma has been around in Germany since 1968, but other than football fans, no one ever really heard of it until the late 80’s. In 2007 Puma joined the group of French Luxury products. Puma have defined themselves as a lifestyle brand, meant to target a wide audience and have a product for everyone. The brand has never had an official slogan. Perhaps, this is to focus the notion that the brand is more than sneakers and their concept and theme is lifestyle. Puma is more of a fashion statement than a quality product. Like many other hot designers, there is no official slogan attached to the product. To date, Puma offers just about everything. The line extends from sporting goods, sport equipment to home décor. Puma is the main producer of driving shoes and race suits in both Formula Once and NASCAR. Puma is also the official sponsor of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Champions.
It is evident Puma has come along way since Germany in 1968. Puma has a bit of leeway with their products because there does not seem to be any set standards for color schemes, target markets or even quality of items. There is no slogan to relate each product back to. In truth, the Puma logo is not easily distinguishable. Research has proven that there are over four other products sold within Canada and the U.S donning the same label as the Puma “lifestyle” brand.
Some may say Puma is a slogan all on its own. But really, what defines the brand? The cute purses? The retro shoes? The baby clothes? There are absolutely no consistencies within the brand so it is clearly not one to be depended on, and or trusted. In 2007 Puma sales reported that profits had fallen by 26% worldwide. This fact speaks volumes. Without brand standards to fall back on, how can a brand possibly grow successfully? In order to grow, Puma must give their brand identity a facelift. In order for buyers to truly identify with a product they need to understand why it is the best, and how it will best benefit them. Brand loyalty cannot be contracted from a vast array of random items. Brand loyalty is obtained through consistency in style, and product value.
The most loyal and respectable products evolve with the time. This shows the brand is concerned with the buyer and their needs. Nike was originally labeled Blue Ribbon Sports, founded by an athlete Philip Knight and his coach. Nike has officially been in production since 1978. It is the worlds leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel. It is no surprise that Nike products circulate worldwide and the brand employs more than 30,000 individuals internationally. The brand markets products under alias names including: Nike Golf, Nike Pro, Nike+, Air Jordan, Umbro and Converse. The original title Blue Ribbon Sports held no catchy slogan or punch line to make the brand memorable. The name change was positive. Simple, direct and highly effective.
The trademark Nike swoosh was added to the Nike family in 1974. It is patented by Nike, and defines the brand identity. The catchy ‘just do it’ trademark was filed in October 3rd 1989, and since has been affixed on every product made by Nike. Nike has a strong identity: with consistent colors and clear-cut graphics logo. Advertising age has chosen ‘just do it’ as one of the top five ad slogans of the twentieth century, and the initial campaign has been enshrined in the Smithsonian institution. The Nike swoosh and catchy slogan evoke position reactions amongst consumers. It is easy to identify, and therefore effective.
Nike is a strong company. It was able to face a worldwide accusation of slave labor. Individuals mocked Nike for ads empowering women, yet in poor countries Nike had working factory’s disempowering women. Most brands could not bounce back from such scrutiny. The company acknowledged their wrong, and vowed to make working situations right within their factories. In the year 2009 Nike had the highest record of sales ever recorded. Needless to say, the scandal has not destroyed the company. All of items of Nike are seen to be fashion must-haves. There is now an extensive line for athletes, and lifestyle brands for children and toddlers. What more could a brand offer?
The marketing strategy is a key factor in the success of the company. It is positioned as a premium brand, well designed and classy. All advertisements are centered on a brand image that is achieved by such a distinct logo and slogan. Sponsorship agreements, professional teams and college athletes promote products – for the user by the user. Nike makes it a point to appeal to the buyers’ emotions to trigger interest in product lines. The more users see a brand, the more trust they invest. Nike has endorsed many big name celebrities, and references have been made to “Nike’s” to refer to sneakers in music and items of pop culture. Nike is not just a brand name, it is an experience.
Every good brand is successful in leaving a unique mark, symbol and set of characteristics that make the product unique for the consumer. Each distinct identity expresses the importance of visual communication, branding and signage to increase brand experience for users. Nike has created a strong reputation. It overpowers the voice of Adidas, and the images of Puma. Puma is not bold enough to stand the test of time. It has existed for several decades, and still consumers do not know what the brand represents. Adidas is connected to a more competitive atmosphere, suggesting that winning is everything. Nike has a team attitude, and a much more relaxed approach. The personality of Nike is one an individual would aspire to find friendship with. Users want to be able to trust what they purchase, and the individuals whom they purchase these items from. The more Nike grows, the more trust it builds within its growing clientele. As new generations of individuals flock to “the Nike experience ,” the more loyal its set of fans becomes. Nike is now a sub cultural icon used to make bold fashion statements.
The true strength and power of a brand lies in how powerful of a presence it can master. Nike is easy to identify, the swoosh and ‘just do it’ make it highlighted to a buyer. The Nike slogan is appropriate for each and every Nike advertisement that is seen in print, ad and television. Nike prides on portraying individual strength in advertisements, not teams finding success. Further suggesting that you as an individual can accomplish anything. The focus Adidas puts on team is not effective. It does not appeal emotionally to the audience. Adidas no longer has a strong presence. The fact that other, more popular brands exist that carry the symbol of the three stripes show that times have changed. Perhaps Adidas styles have run their course. There is only so much recycling of ideas a company can do before all buyer interest is forever lost. Puma seems a one-hit-wonder of sporting goods. It is visually appealing, but does not appeal to the buyers’ ethics, morale’s or values.
Nike sets the par high. The slogan is enriching, and believable. As a proud user of Nike products I firmly believe Nike believes in the products they sell, and not just about the money they make. Statistics have proven these feelings are universal. Nike has bounced back from a major scandal with working conditions. In the year 2010, Nike still stands with more support and fans than ever.
When you need to feel inspired Nike is trusted to always be there, to help you ‘just do it.’
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